14 Holy Martyrs Parish

By George A. Keys GAKEYS@aol.com

     I was born in 1925 at 1519 W. Lombard Street in S.W. Baltimore. Our neighborhood was made up of predominately Irish and Germans, quite a few worked for the B&O at Mount Clare. That is those who had a job, because I was raised during the depression.

     No matter what your denomination, 14's was thre nucleus of the area. In my youth we moved to south Stricker Street, Parrish Street, and the 15 and 1600 blocks of McHenry Street. Jobs were scarce during the depression. We were probabaly all poor, but didn't realize it.

     My father made home brew beer, and for a few years during the prohibition my home was a so called, "Speak Easy". It was strictly, "Male Only" and never was there any one getting out of line. The home brew kept us(6 kids and a Grandmother) off welfare and paid the bills.

     When beer came back my parents opened a small confectionary store at in the 1600 block of McHenry Street. My father was coined "Captain Keys" by the probably 100 kids that frequented the store. Hung out is a better word. "Franks Hollywood Barber Shop" was located next to our store.

     The 100 block of South Mount Street was our playground where we played two hand touch football in the street, plus many other games. There weren't many cars in those days.

     My parents kept the store well into the 60's. However, from 1936 to 1942 I hung out with the Mount Street Gang. We kids set up pins at 14's bowling alley for 3 cents a game in the 30's. We did our homework at the bowling alley. Most of the gang went to Poly and most graduated. Practically al of the Poly grads went into the 8th Air Force and became officers. We lost 3 of them.

     My greatest memories of growing up was hanging out at 14's bowling alley and the friday and saturday night basketball leagues. They featured the very best ball players in Baltimore. We neighborhood kids could get to see the games by wiping off the seats and keeping the scores from the balcony.

     I eventually made it to the announcer table and became the official scorekeeper of the Baltimore Basketball Saturday Night League. WWII and I joined the Navy. After the war I played briefly in the new Sunday Night league.

     From 1941 to 1946 most of us were in the service. Seven of the boys were killed in WWII.

     14's had a school band and it was second only to the Saint Mary's Industrial School Band in the city. Our band leader Jim Hipp became the band master on the Battleship Texas during the war. After the war the band got together, and on one saturday night at the old Memorial Staduim we played at half time during the Miami and New England football teams.

     When the Colts came to town about 10 of us we're in the first Colt band. Mr. Rimert was the band master. I never liked him or those "jockey uniforms so I quit.

     Quite a few of us "old" guys and gals still get together at the Dewey Loman American Legion Post 109 in Halethorpe Maryland. It was a great time to grow up. Look me up at GAKEYS@aol.com .

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